It’s been a turbulent year for Facebook.
By far the biggest furore came in the spring when details of the Cambridge Analytica scandal emerged.
In March, it was revealed that data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, had harvested the personal data of millions of people’s Facebook profiles without their consent, and used it for political purposes.
The improper harvesting went beyond a user’s name, age, email address, and demographics, to include behavioural data - i.e. the content users’ liked - that would help analysts build up personality profiles.
The impact on Facebook as a company has been well-documented. On the day the scandal erupted, Facebook’s stock price dropped over 7%. Mark Zuckerberg has since been called to appear before Congress in two high-profile hearings.
Last month, it was revealed Facebook had been fined £500,000 by the UK data watchdog over the scandal. And employee morale at Facebook is now at an all-time low - an internal survey revealed employee confidence has plummeted by 32%.
But, it doesn’t seem to have had a significant effect on user numbers. In a HubSpot survey, 60% of 754 users across the U.S., UK, and Canada, reported that the scandal has not caused them to stop using Facebook, or delete their accounts.
So with all this drama, what is it about Facebook that makes it so difficult to let go of?
HubSpot recently conducted another survey, again in the U.S., UK and Canada. They asked participants, “Look at the year this company has had. What’s keeping you around?”
They shared the results in this article.
Here’s a summary of what they found:
The highest number of users - 46% - said the reason they continue to use Facebook, despite the issues they’ve had, is because of the role it plays in their personal life. For most users, it seems the cost of losing the connection to family and friends is just too high.
26% say they’ve stuck with it because they’ve accepted that their privacy and personal information may never be completely protected if they use social media. A sad and scary thought... when you think about it.
And 22% aren’t as concerned about Facebook itself as much as they are about the value it provides them in being able to discover news stories, watch videos, and follow brands.
But with fake news becoming an increasing problem, will the reliance on Facebook to stay up-to-date with the latest goings on, become redundant? Legislators from a number of countries around the world feel Facebook has failed to get a grip on the issue of fake news, and are now stepping in to take action.
A further 12% say they don’t care about the company’s missteps enough to delete their account. And 9% say they stick around due to lack of a suitable alternative to Facebook that would do any better at protecting their privacy and personal information.
Facebook is still very much a part of millions of people's daily lives. Even amongst all the commotion, we're still attached to it. It’s a habit we can’t quit for good - even if we barely use it.
I’ve had a Facebook account since 2007. Over a decade. I can’t just let it go, can I?
As the year draws to a close, looking back at the bumps in the road for Facebook over the past 11 months makes it difficult to believe that, well, it's only been 11 months -- to the point where It's difficult to encapsulate the 2018 ups and downs experienced by Facebook in a single paragraph. But here goes. The year kicked off with a major News Feed algorithm change in January to prioritize posts from users' friends and family over those from Business Pages. By August, engagement with these Pages had dropped by up to 50%. In the spring, details emerged on the improper harvesting of private user data by a voter profiling firm -- leading Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear before Congress in two high-profile hearings. In November, the New York Times published a report that the company's leadership had not only actively worked to hide these issues (instead of fixing them), but also hired a PR firm to portray Facebook's critics in a negative light. And that's only a selection of some of the bigger stories about Facebook from 2018.